Meaning

Primary

Public Behavior

Alternatives

Public Behaviour, Official Stance, Public Position, Public Face, Tatemae

Word Type

noun

Explanation

What you build up in front of other people is your public image. This is your public behavior, how you act around others you don't really know. This concept is surprisingly important in Japan, so you'll hear it often enough despite being such a strange concept in other places. You'll have to think of this like you're building buildings of personality in front of you. These show off who you are on the outside, but it protects what's on the inside.

Reading

たてまえ
  • Kyoko
    (Tokyo accent, female)
  • Kenichi
    (Tokyo accent, male)

Explanation

The reading is pretty strange. It's a lot like 建物 in that it's read as たて, which is like the word 建てる even though the isn't showing here. So, you'll have to remember it's read like 建てる but the gets pushed into the kanji.

Context

Common Word Combinations

  • 建前を言う

    to say social niceties, to speak formally

    建前を使う

    to adopt a formal stance

    建前を使い分ける

    to use different levels of formality as appropriate

Context Sentences

ビエトは本音と建前を使い分けるのが上手い。

Viet is good at separating his public and private selves.

それは建前上、そういうことにしてるだけですよ。

They're just pretending that's the case for appearance's sake.

よく「本音と建前」は日本独特の文化だと言われますが、世界中どこの国にもあるものですよ。

It is often said that "the contrast between one’s personal feelings and public behavior" is a uniquely Japanese culture, but it is found in every country in the world.

Kanji Composition